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I bought it!
One week. That’s all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future–decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.
Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he’s run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river–the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.
As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie’s town who don’t like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.
Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.
I wanted to read this book after finding out about it at the end of last year. I loved its simple cover and the title made me wonder what it was going to be about. I found this book to be utterly gripping and I devoured it quickly, not expecting it to be as deep as it was.
This Is Not A Love Letter centres around Jessie. Her boyfriend Chris used to send her love letters every Friday since they started dating. Jessie never wrote back to him however much she appreciated them. Chris suddenly disappears after Jessie called for a week’s break on their relationship. Jessie starts to write letters to Chris detailing what happened whilst he was missing. Jessie has a lot of guilt over events that have happened or conversations that were said during their relationship. As the book progresses, Jessie starts to pour out more details. Could it be that Chris was a victim of racial hate crime?
As we read through the story, we learn more about the people in Chris’s life. We learn more about what he is like as a person. Little snippets of information about him start to come through during Jessie’s interactions with others. At the start of the story, we don’t learn much from the detectives. It is not until he had been missing for longer that they started to take notice. This book really is difficult to categorise. Is it a love story? Is it a mystery? It really has a slice of both genres.
It was interesting to see how the author slipped in the possibility that it could be a racial hate crime after Chris had experienced some hate from others in the community. Chris is the only black baseball player in the town and had achieved a full scholarship which made him resented by other baseball players. Kim Purcell has been very clever with this book as she created so many possibilities for what had happened to Chris. It is revealed that he has suffered with mental health problems in the past, so when that is revealed, you wonder if he could have done something to himself.
This book really was a pleasure to read and whilst very sad in points, I thought it was beautifully written. I really enjoyed reading Jessie’s letters to Chris which became more and more intimate and touching as the story progressed. I felt like she began to know herself better and become closer to those around her.
Would I recommend it?: